6 tips for successfully upskilling as a designer

Decided to upgrade yourself this year? Follow these tips to skip to the front of the opportunities queue.

Illustration: Flavio Montiel

Looking to extend your skillset in 2016? Maybe you want to learn how to start a blog or discover how to draw? Upskilling can help you skip to the front of the design opportunities queue. But what should you learn, and how?

We've already looked at the skills most desired by employers in 2016. Now read on for six pro tips from designers who've successfully upskilled…

01. Build your confidence

"Have the ambition, confidence and drive to go beyond the area you're working in," advises Terry Stephens, creative director at Moving Brands. "Look for inspiration that you can apply to your work in a way that's relevant to you."

02. Set broad horizons

"Read something new, watch something different, or visit someplace and get lost," urges art director and experimental typographer Craig Ward. "If you're going to develop as a designer, you need to develop as a person."

03. Be fearless

"Flawless design bores me; 'ugly' design gets my attention," declares Jenny Theolin, educator and creative director at Studio Theolin. "I'd rather see you experimenting with the tools you have than considering your next software purchase."

04. Stay adaptable

"Adapt to your environment," says Ben Christie, creative partner at Magpie Studio. "You should always be looking and learning, sucking up as much of the world as you can."

05. Work on your problem-solving

For Stuart Radford, creative director at The Partners, it's all about developing your capacity to think creatively and solve problems. "The ability to come up with original and unexpected ideas is more valuable than anything," he insists.

06. Be passionate

"Be true to who you are," concludes James Hurst, executive strategic creative director at DesignStudio. "If you can keep the spirit alive of doing shit you love, you won't fall into the trap of trying to be the same as everyone else."

The full version of this article first appeared inside Computer Arts 248, a special issue dedicated to helping you be a better designer in 2016.

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Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specialising in design and technology. He was previously associate editor at Creative Bloq and deputy editor at net magazine, the world’s best-selling magazine for web designers. Over two decades in journalism he’s worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including The Sun, Radio Times, NME, Heat, Company and Bella. Follow him on Twitter @tom_may.